The New Year is underway. The holiday season is on the downswing as 2019 gets going in earnest. Some have already given up on resolutions, students are heading back to class soon, and work has started again.
With traditions, complicated family dynamics, and transforming decorations, the gap of time between Thanksgiving to New Years is full of emotions. The ups are particularly high and the downs are especially low.
Why are our emotions so heightened during this season? What are they trying to tell us? And most importantly, how can we step into the new year with a proper perspective that transforms our emotions into useful fodder.
“This Is Important!”
The first thing emotions tell us is that we have encountered something important. Our emotional responses, more than anything, are indicative of the fact that a value we hold to has been prodded.
We’ve developed an interesting defense mechanism. We focus on the superficial cause rather than the underlying condition. When our emotions skyrocket, we focus on the event that triggered it. “She yelled at me”. “That guy cut me off in traffic”. We imagine that our emotional responses are a reaction to injustice.
In reality, our emotional responses are a reaction to the perceived threat to our values.
When we look at the circumstance itself, it is easy for us to try to just dismiss emotions. “I shouldn’t get angry at traffic”, etc. But this is short-sighted. We are missing a chance to explore and engage with our values.
“This Is Just The Beginning.”
We come over the top with our emotions because we desperately hope our emotional response can end a situation. We foolishly believe the emotions are judge, jury and executioner.
But emotions are just the beginning. They are telling us that a process is in motion. The process is to Feel, Think, and Act. Emotions start us off and need to be acknowledged for their service. However, they are handing the baton off. The whole process isn’t about emotions.
We have trained our emotions to be greedy. They want to be the gods of our lives. Or, rather, we want them to be the gods of our lives. It is simpler, easier. But the emotions themselves are usually spent pretty quickly. They’re ready to hit the showers and pass the buck.
What Would You Like To Do?
We’ve got a choice to make. This is the legacy of emotions. They awaken us to the opportunity before us to influence our world, exercise our character, and decide the kind of life we want to live. Emotions are not the answer. They are the question mark. They are the messenger, letting us know that a response is needed. And the response is the choice we make. The action we respond with in light of the triggered values and specific circumstances we’ve encountered.
As the year gets underway, don’t let the train of emotions derail. Observe them, harness them, and utilize them toward effective living. Hear what your emotions are saying and let your responses transform your life.